This is a word that I grew up hearing a lot in my Church, the search for family, and the connection of the family tree. The new, or new to me as I got older term is Family History. There’s a show on PBS that does research into people’s family trees, and it’s pretty interesting to find out what they learn. But what’s more fun, is to find out more about my own family.
I have to admit, I don’t love trying to find names and add them to my family tree. But what I do love is to read the stories, the journals, and the information about the individuals. Some have very little information, maybe a birth date, maybe a death date, sometimes just a baptism or christening date or marriage date. But any information is fun to see and read about. Some however have journals and stories passed down through generations, either written or kept alive through storytelling, although if your history is verbal, you should write it down, so it’s not lost.
This past week as part of the Light the World challenge I took the opportunity to read some stories from my dad’s side of the family. We spent a lot of time with family on my mom’s side, and I was blessed with grandparents who understood the importance of genealogy, so I heard many stories, and there are many journal entries. I have binders of stories and histories from my mom’s side. But I hadn’t really heard many stories from my dad’s side, so that’s where I went first. Wow, there are so many stories, family coming from Europe seeking a better life, becoming pioneers, traveling across and all over the United States. People building, using talents (it’s fun to see what talents some of them had), helping others, and making this country a better place.
I use a program called Family Search that my Church maintains, but I believe anyone can acquire an account. It is very similar to Ancestry, which is also a great place to begin if you don’t want to try Family Search. The two actually work hand in hand however, as members of my Church have spent several years digitizing image files from all over the world to make them searchable for anyone interested in their family history. But the thing I like the most about it, is the memories tab in any individual’s record. If you have memories, you can add them, and if you’re like me, you can then go in and read information about your own family members that you may never have known.
Reading these histories has given me a glimpse into what life was like, how people raised their kids, traveled great distances, what was important to them, where my roots are (mostly Europe), and what they did day to day in some instances. I have learned more about family traits, not particularly genetic disease, but through pictures I see my children, through stories I hear their voices and see them as they really are, people trying just like me to live the best way they know how. I see perseverance, I see faith, I see trust and love. I am grateful for the people who have taken time to add these histories and journals to the site, and the opportunity I have to learn more about my family.
If you have never researched your family tree, now is a great time to start! There are so many resources out there to help you, and so much more information than there used to be, literally at your fingertips. Family is so important to me, and ultimately, we are all family. It is so fun to see how we’re all connected, and that really, most of us are connected within 9-10 generations. I would love to hear where you’re from, some interesting people you’re related to, or maybe a story that you love from generations past!